Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lerato and Monica

Lerato, age 10, and Monica, age 6 are cousins and both girls' mothers passed away this year. For the last few months they have been staying with an uncle in a situation that has been less than ideal. There are 6 other men living in the house with

no women, although to this point it seems that nothing terrible has happened. He has been trying to keep them only for the small grant he receives each month for foster care.

At The Village our first house is nearing completion. Many man-hours have been invested and we are almost ready. Since things aren't fully completed the two girls will be staying with the O'Tools until the house is finished. In the meantime we continue to make arrangements for their full-time care. Dunamis Christian School is holding a place for them, and we have several leads for housemothers. Lois and Amber have sorted clothes, found backpacks and school supplies, and prepared Christmas gifts for the girls.

Soon Lerato and Monica will be experiencing the same outpouring of love we have experienced over the past year during the establishment of Restoring Hope Village. It is through your faithful prayers and support that this day is possible. These two girls, along with many others will soon be shown of the love that God has given us. We are privileged to be the hands and feet of Christ, and your representatives to those who so desperately need Him.

Your partnership in ministry is essential. Many of you have already joined us in the work. Here are some ways you can continue to partner with Restoring Hope:

Continue to pray for the ministry here. Pray for the children, our church outreach ministry, and ongoing work at The Village.

Consider a 2010 year end donation. As 2010 draws to a close, consider a financial gift to help us finish our goal of $8,000 to ensure we are prepared to care for the children God brings us. We are over halfway there, and hope to reach our goal by the end of the year. You can give on-line at or mail your gift to the address below.

Sponsor a Child. We have had several people already sign up for sponsoring a child. To learn more about our sponsorship, contact us at

Join a team. We have several teams and visitors already scheduled for 2011. If you are interested, please contact us at

Join us in thanksgiving for God's wonderful provision and blessing throughout this past year.

The Staff at Restoring Hope Village

Brian & Lois Niehoff

Louis & Amber O'Tool

Restoring Hope International

PO Box 372, Ankeny, Iowa 50021 · 515.963.6794

Nearing Completion

I love going to the property and seeing every new step that is happening. Each step of progress now really makes the house take on a new look. The door jams and trim are completed! All the painting is done! All the tile has been laid! Just the grouting needs to be done. Today my bathroom mirror was hung along with the toilet being installed and all those fun jobs in the bathroom.

On Wednesday we get carpet for the bedrooms-another yeah. And the sun is out today. We've had A LOT of rain recently along with high winds. We've experienced winds like never before. Even our neighbors at The Village said they've never seen anything like it before. The winds were so bad on Sunday evening that is cause a large section of our concrete fencing to fall over. Another section of the fence also suffered damage but it is still standing. The company that supplied our fence is taking partial blame for the fence materials not holding up against the winds and will be replacing some of the fence at their expense. Praise the Lord!!!

{Lindie and Liam love going to the house during lunch time}

{Brian, Bob and Louie laying the tile}

{Living room and passage almost done}
{As you can see, we received a lot of rain}
{Lawrence, or better known as Pops, helped at
the house by varnishing our front and back door}
{Trim painted and is now all installed}
{Our bedroom}
{Liam and Lindie's bedroom}

{measuring our old curtain, and now Susie is hemming them to length}

Since I started this blog post more has been accomplished. This week carpet was installed in the 3 bedrooms. The front door is on and has a lock :) and the back yard has been tilled up and planted with grass seed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Day That Won't Be Forgotten

{This post was written the day Amber and I picked up Lerato and Monica from the social worker's office-December 20}

Today is a day that won't be forgotten anytime soon.

Today is the day that the first 2 girls came to live at Restoring Hope Village. A day that we, the staff at Restoring Hope Village, have been eagerly anticipating for a while now. We have known about these girls and their situations for more then a month now and have been praying for them. Praying for their safety, for their family or lack of family situation and for their understanding of what is about to come.

Today is a day that these two girls will also not forget anytime soon but with time we pray their hearts will heal and their lives will be mended.

Today is a day that will forever change our lives. Each time God gives us a new child to care for, to love and to help mold them into His likeness, is a life changing day.

Now let me clarify a few details. Restoring Hope Village's first house is nearing completion, but not yet finished. A local social worker, that we work closely with, asked us to do her a favor. To consider taking these 2 girls into our own home while The Village is being completed. After much prayer and guidance from our local trustees the O'Tool family (our co-workers) felt the Lord directing them in this direction. We also desired to take these girls into our own home, but we knew with our upcoming move, having family currently living with us and once we move into our new house at The Village we wouldn't have a proper bedroom for them, we also knew it would be best for the girls to live with the O'Tools.

We have pretty much been on-call for these girls since December 8th but today was the day-December 20th. Their family situation is still a bit fuzzy to us, as the details aren't totally clear. Lerato is 10 years old and Monica is 6. They are cousins and have both been living with their Uncle since both of their mothers died. They have been living in a house full of men, with no mother figure and no one really caring for them. Neighbors report that the girls run in the streets all day and often don't even sleep in their Uncle's home at night.

Today is the day that their entire world got turned upside down again. Their Uncle brought them into see the social worker and that is when they found out that they were not returning with their Uncle to the township. Today they left everything that is familiar and what they call home.

Over the past 4 years of living in Welkom and caring for orphaned and vulnerable children it has become apparent to me how much family means to these children. It doesn't matter if it is an uncle, auntie, cousin, granny and often it isn't even a close blood relative but these children desperately hang onto these family members. It doesn't matter to them if they aren't fed, clothed, or loved by these so called family members. Love doesn't even enter these children's minds, only survival. These children don't even know what love is nor do they know how to accept it. Love is a foreign concept to them. The lasting comment from the social worker today "These children don't even know the love of a mother's heart."

Today Amber and I held 2 screaming, kicking, fighting little girls that in reality didn't know how to act differently. They were most likely acting out of fear. Fear of being ripped out of their Uncle's care, fear of these two white ladies holding them and fear of the unknown.

You may be asking yourself, so why did these 2 girls have to leave their uncle? I asked myself that many times in the short timespan of 30 minutes which seemed more like an eternity. Could their uncle be that bad? YES. The girls are filthy from not being washed properly, their shoes are too small, their clothes have holes and even though these are all materialistic things we know he hasn't been caring for their needs. They are small in size for their age, the uncle drinks way too much, and the only reason he desires to keep them is for the small foster grant he receives from the government for caring for them.

Even though today and most likely tomorrow and all this week will seem rather foreign to them and bewildering, we pray that Lerato and Monica will settle into their home comfortably. We pray they will be able to understand what love is and how to accept it. Most of all, we pray for their spiritual life-that they will come to understand and know that their Heavenly Father loves them more then we love them.

We ask that you also pray for Lerato and Monica.

Prior to their arrival we picked out clothes, shoes, school bags and Christmas presents for the girls. They arrived at The O'Tool's house with Christmas presents under the tree for them. I'm sure that is also another first of many firsts to come their way.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Church in Thabong

This past Sunday (December 12th) we held our second church service in Thabong at a local high school. The need for a good, Bible preaching church in Thabong is overwhelming. Thabong has many, many churches but we have come to realize that most of these churches do not preach the Word of God-often they don't even open the Bible.
Because most of the children that we will be caring for come from Thabong and the young men that have come to know Christ also live in Thabong, it only make sense to start a church where they live.

The high school we meet at is in an absolute disarray. The amount of theft, vandalism and graffiti is overwhelming. Most classrooms don't even look like classrooms anymore. All of the electric cables have been ripped out and stolen. You can see that the classroom doors have been locked at one point, but people have just broken through the locks. The school use to have security fencing around the property, but as you can see the fencing has been relocated to inside the school classrooms. A security guard is also suppose to be on duty, but for both Sundays we have not seen any evidence of a security guard. I can not imagine kids actually learning in this type of environment. I'd love to just observe a few hours during the school day to see how or if these kids actually learn.

We hold church in whatever classroom that can be cleaned up the best. We move all the chairs to sweep up the dirt, litter and other obscene items found. We clean off the chairs, straighten them into rows, set up the key board powered by batteries and prepare for church. Both Sundays we have had 25 people in attendance.

DJ opens the service and also does the scripture reading. Louie and Amber lead songs and Louie preaches.
Amber has been holding Sunday School for children 6 and younger outside.

We are eager to see this church grow and to see many people come to know Christ as their personal Savior. It is only Jesus Christ that can change this country from the ways of their sinful actions. So many people want to see an HIV free generation in South Africa, therefore they promote safe sex and all these other views. What we want these people to come to know, understand and believe is that they need to turn to God. The only way we will ever see a HIV free generation is by changed lives through Jesus Christ.

Please keep this new church in your prayers. Pray that many more will come to church and openly hear the True Word of God. Thank you for your love, support and prayers. We will keep you posted on how things continue to go at church.

Since I'm a little late in getting this posted. This past Sunday, Dec 19, we had 36 in attendance!

My Birthday Present

This past Saturday was my birthday and I turned 30. I don't think its so bad and at least I don't feel any older :) And I got a really, super cute Yorkie puppy for my birthday from Brian.

I had a fantastic day and pretty much celebrated the entire day. Bob and Susan took us out for breakfast to Wimpy's, then we went to the market and ended up buying my puppy. The kids also rode a few rides, which they enjoyed. Then home for a relaxing afternoon, while Bob and Susan prepared supper for the guests they invited over. That evening they hosted a birthday supper party for me and it ended with a very yummy German chocolate cake with 30 candles. So turning 30 was actually very nice and I'd do it again any day!

{Birthday breakfast at Wimpy's}
{Liam enjoying breakfast}
{Picking out which puppy we want}

{My new puppy}
{Lindie's first ride at the market}
{I had lots of help opening my birthday presents.
Christmas will be lots of fun this year}

{Lindie also loves the new puppy}
{Birthday supper party and cake}
{Our new puppy, Millie}

Our 8 year Anniversary

Today Brian and I have been married 8 years. Wow, times sure goes by quickly when you are having fun. We've been so blessed throughout our 8 years of marriage-we've experienced a lot of wonderful things together. Our two most precious gifts from God-Liam and Lindie came along in the past 2 1/2 years and have filled our lives with so much joy.

We also have spent half of our married life living in South Africa and loving it. The Lord has given us so many blessings to be thankful for.

Last week we took 5 days off and went on a holiday to Uvongo and the Indian Ocean. We relaxed, took naps, played in the ocean, visited a light house, and ate banana pancakes at a banana farm. The kids stayed home with grandma and grandpa-so we truly had a relaxing time. We discovered that this was our first time to travel alone in South Africa since 2005. We've decided we should make it an annual holiday.

{Indian Ocean}

{View of the ocean from the balcony of our flat}

{Lighthouse in Port Edwards. We climbed to the top
but couldn't go outside on the balcony because of the high winds}

{Brian on some big rocks out in the ocean}

{We spent a few hours everyday playing in the big ocean waves}

{Enjoyed watching the monkeys}

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Ornaments

This year we started a new tradition with the cousins doing an ornament exchange that they each make. This year Liam and Lindie made hand reindeer ornaments with their photo on the back. I enjoyed making their ornaments with them. It was a bit of a challenge to get a 2 year old and a 1 year olds hand print to turn out well enough, but we managed. We also managed not to get everything else painted brown along the way. Liam does not like having his hands messy, so I had to convince him that it was ok for mommy to paint his hand brown. Lindie loves being messy, so I had to keep her from painting the rest of her body brown.

Here are the ornaments we made. We also made 2 for our own Christmas tree.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


We celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday and had a wonderful day. We didn't celebrate on Thursday because Brian's parents arrived on Wednesday evening!!!! {Yeah} so it would have been too rushing to get everything ready and Thursday is just another day here in South Africa so our friends wouldn't have been able to join us.

We had a beautiful day, its summer ya know, so we are having warm, sunny temperatures while our family is embracing winter. We had a full menu including turkey, stuffing, jello salad, homemade bread rolls, carrots, pumpkin casserole, and pumpkin fritters and more. We finished off with pumpkin and rhubarb pie-It was so yummy!

After our friends left, the O'Tools stayed around for a few more hours. Grandpa Bob gave the kids rides on the four wheeler around our yard and they loved it. Surprisingly enough, Lindie loved it the most I think. Anytime Grandpa Bob tried to get away without her, she'd start running towards the four wheeler with her arms up. She gonna be a little girl with her daddy's adventurous spirit. And that is okay!